News

by Caleb Jones

The UAB School of Optometry Alumni Association named Rob Pate, OD, class of 2007, 2021 Alumnus of the Year.

“UABSO has produced and is home to a myriad of exceptional graduates that are doing and have done some incredible things,” Pate said. “To be recognized alongside them is a tremendous blessing.”

by Satina Richardson

Natalie Vines has had a storied military career that includes multiple combat deployments that led to mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs). UAB Eye Care’s clinic that is dedicated to treating patients with brain injuries provided relief to Natalie’s vision issues that have long affected her quality of life.

by Caleb Jones

The UAB School of Optometry Alumni Association named Brandon Runyon, OD, class of 2013, the 2021 Young Alumnus of the Year.

“I'm very shocked and honored to have been nominated and selected for this award,” Runyon said. “It's humbling to know that my colleagues felt my achievements to be worthy of this kind of recognition. I've always had a desire to push myself to the limits of my knowledge, embrace and effect change, and accept new challenges when the opportunities are presented in the interest of personal and professional growth.

Jillian F. Ziemanski, OD, PhD, FAAO, is the 2021 recipient of the Korb-Exford Dry Eye Career Development Grant by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. The grant is designed to support an individual to further their knowledge in the broad area of dry eye disease.

by Caleb Jones

Seth D. Fortmann, a dual degree MD/PhD student enrolled in the Vision Science Graduate Program (VSGP), has been awarded an F30 research grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NIH/NEI). The total grant amount is $208,840 and marks the first time in UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) history that a VSGP student has been awarded an F30 grant.

by Lieutenant Matt Schaffner, OD
UAB School of Optometry Class of 2019

Each year, the UAB School of Optometry has several graduates who choose to serve as military optometrists. Lieutenant Matt Schaffner, OD, was kind enough to share his journey to becoming a military optometrist and provide a glimpse into a day in his life as an optometrist in the United States Navy. His wife and classmate, Ginny Carroll Schaffner, OD, is an optometrist in San Diego, CA. 

by Satina Richardson

A professor dedicated to treating young patients and training future optometrists, Kristine Hopkins, OD, MSPH, FAAO, was named the 2021 Alabama Optometric Association (ALOA) Educator of the Year.

Hopkins joined the UAB School of Optometry faculty in the summer of 1998  working in pediatric clinical services and founded UAB Eye Care’s Vision Therapy Clinic. UAB Eye Care is the clinical arm of the school. She left to work in an Atlanta-area private practice in 2012. However, her love for teaching influenced a return to UAB in 2015.

Safal Khanal, OD, PhD, FAAO, has joined the UAB School of Optometry as a tenure-track assistant professor. In his new role, Khanal will lead an independent research program, in addition to teaching professional and graduate courses and contributing to professional service.

By Caleb Jones

The UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) recently kicked off its new Faculty-Student Mentoring and Social Program (FSMS), organized by assistant professor of optometry Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FSLS. The program is intended to foster student relationships with faculty members and students from other optometry classes.

By Caleb Jones

Keshia S. Elder, OD, MS, FAAO, associate professor of optometry and an attending in the UAB Eye Care Primary Care clinic, has been selected to participate in the Health Leadership Academy (HLA). She will be a member of the 2022 cohort, which includes a select few from a cross-section of individuals from UAB schools, the UAB Health System and UAB Medicine.

by Caleb Jones

This year at the 2021 National Optometric Association (NOA) National Convention, two students from the UAB School of Optometry were elected leaders of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) and one student was awarded a scholarship.

by Satina Richardson

 

Candice Turner, OD, discovered her passion for teaching while working with fourth year optometry students during her career in private practice. She ultimately changed paths and became a full-time educator. Her decision has been rewarding. Turner received the 2021 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

by Satina Richardson

Jason Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO, has been named UAB’s senior associate president for research. Nichols’ existing responsibilities include leading entrepreneurial and clinical trial initiatives in the Office of Research, serving on the Center for Clinical and Translational Science Executive Committee, and ongoing return to research operations planning. He will now also assume leadership duties of the merged offices of Research Development & Internal Programs as well as Research Engagement & Partnerships. 

by Caleb Jones

Yuqiang (Bob) Bai, PhD, a researcher in the lab of Jason Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO, has been awarded an NEI/NIH R21 grant to develop an interferometry system with unprecedented sub-micron resolution to understand tear film structure and function in dry eye disease. The grant is for two years, totaling $370,101.

by Caleb Jones

UAB School of Optometry alumnus Walter Jackson, OD, has been named National Optometric Association Student of the Year. The Class of 2021 graduate--who also currently serves as the national president of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA)--has also received the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award. The honor recognizes outstanding optometry students and members of NOSA. All award recipients chosen embody the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to diversity of Poston, a founding member of Vision Service Plan (VSP).

by Satina Richardson

Deanna Jones’ 19-month-old son, Sammy, was being clumsy. She thought this was because he is a toddler, or because she thought he had a lazy eye. Jones began seeking medical help for him and her efforts ultimately saved his vision.

by Satina Richardson

Four of the six UAB School of Optometry deans have served as president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Following in their footsteps, UAB School of Optometry Dean Kelly Nichols is ASCO president for 2021-22.

Nichols is the first ASCO president who also served as president of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).

As the summer comes to an end, parents of school-aged children may find themselves questioning what they need to do before the first bell of the 2021 school year rings. Experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham recommend four things that need to be on parents’ checklists to ensure their child is ready to hit the books. 

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Vision screenings have long been a part of the School of Optometry’s community service offerings. In 1974, two optometry students screened two young children for vision issues.

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Demetric Jones took a nontraditional path to optometry school. After earning his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University, he established a career at Unilever-Covington in Memphis, Tenn., to reduce the financial hardship of his single-parent home. Improved circumstances signaled that he could finally pursue his goal of becoming an eye doctor.

With encouragement from his wife, he applied to multiple optometry schools, interviewed at three schools, and became an officer in the newly formed Black Eyecare Perspective Pre-Optometry Club to begin building a professional network in the field. Jones will attend the UAB School of Optometry’s OD/MBA dual degree program as a member of the 2025 class. Here is Jones' story in his own words.